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Defense secretary reiterates US commitment to arm Taiwan

Washington will provide defense articles, services necessary for self-defense: Austin

US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin. (AP photo)

US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin. (AP photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin reiterated Washington’s commitment to provide Taiwan with arms in the face of growing Chinese military aggression.

“The United States will make available to Taiwan defense articles and services necessary to enable it to maintain a sufficient self-defense capability commensurate with the Chinese threat,” Austin told Nikkei in a written interview.

Speaking during congressional testimony in early May, Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, reiterated Beijing is looking to have the ability to take Taiwan by force by 2027, per the report. Milley’s assessment has created a sense of urgency to bolster arms sales and training to Taiwan.

During a May 23 press conference in Tokyo, President Joe Biden was asked if the U.S. was willing to defend Taiwan militarily in the event of a Chinese invasion, to which he replied “Yes.” However, the following day, Biden insisted that the U.S. policy of “strategic ambiguity” concerning Taiwan had not changed.

Biden’s comments appear to signal a growing anxiety inside his administration in regard to a potential Taiwan invasion by China, Nikkei said.

Considering the U.S. did not deploy forces to Ukraine, when asked by Nikkei if Washington would not rule out the possibility of sending troops in the event of a Taiwan Strait conflict, Austin replied, “They are indeed two highly different scenarios.” A response that the outlet said seemed to indicate a possibility of sending U.S. forces in the event of a conflict.

Austin is scheduled to attend the Asian Security Summit (Shangri-La Dialogue) in Singapore from June 10 to 12, where he will make a speech on the U.S.’ defense strategy for the Indo-Pacific region, according to Nikkei.